Growin’ Older

I don’t know how I got to be this age.  One minute I was a young woman having the time of her life with everything before her, and the next minute I’m 68 years old.

Sorry, make that 67… the problem with having a December birthday is that a couple of weeks later you’re into the following year, and as far as officialdom is concerned (who only take account of your birth year) you’re already a year older than you actually are.

Sometimes I get caught up in this thinking too, and occasionally I get a pleasant surprise when I remember I’m a year younger than I and everyone else thought I was.  But that’s probably about the only pleasant surprise about the aging process.

I haven’t become wiser, as I hoped I might.  I haven’t become more tolerant, in fact probably quite the opposite.  But I have become better at voicing my frustrations… a small consolation.

And you’ll find some of them here…  🙂

Losing the Drive…?

Open Wide… and scream

The Power of Positive Thinking

Weekly Photo Challenge – Selfie

The Daily Prompt: Mal Vecino

The Daily Post:  Twilight Zone – Revelation

Daily Post:  It’s Friday, I’m in Love

A Fishwifely Tale

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Ese’s Weekly Shoot and Quote Challenge: Wings

Words have wings, so speak good things. (Ritu Ghatourey)

A bird sitting on a tree is not afraid of the branch breaking because his trust is not on the branch but on his wings.  (Unknown)

Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge this week asks for photos relating to ‘Wings’.  I’ve taken it literally, and included some photos taken last year at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, England.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold

For the Weekly Photo Challenge which this week asks for photographs to meet the theme ‘Thresholds’.  Some other interesting links:

  1. Weely Photo Challenge: Threshold | Photographs by James Collett
  2. Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | The World Is a Book…
  3. Weekly Travel Theme: Misty & Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | WordsVisual
  4. Weekly Photo Challenge – Threshold – Down to the gardens |
  5. The Daily Post: Threshold | decocraftsdigicrafts
  6. Into the light | until the inkwell dries
  7. :: WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | Belo Horizonte daily photo
  8. Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | A mom’s blog
  9. On the threshold of becoming a big boy: Put your hands up « psychologistmimi
  10. At The Threshold | Lillie-Put
  11. Nicaragua: On the Threshold of Change | Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua
  12. Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | stenoodie
  13. Thresholds | Le Drake Noir
  14. Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | Picturing England
  15. Between land and water | Draw a photo
  16. Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | The other pictures.
  17. Weekly photo challenge: Threshold | Connie’s World
  18. Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | ArtKorppi
  19. Weekly Photo Challenge: Thresholds | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)
  20. Visual Quotations 51: Threshold | Beyond the Brush
  21. Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | Hadorable
  22. Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | Memory Catcher
  24. Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | Morrighan’s Muse
  25. There is no other life | Always was a rebel…
  26. Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | YSalma
  27. Closed | Monochrome
  29. Indonesian » Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold (Awal Mula) | AgroMaulz 12
  30. Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold, Take Two | Wind Against Current
  31. Adventure Around the Bend | Mary J Melange
  32. Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold (II) | Eye Candy Visionz
  33. Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | Cari Aiken Art
  34. Weekly Photo Challenge : Threshold/Ambang | bambangpriantono
  35. Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | six degrees photography
  36. Threshold: Weekly Photo Challenge | 3 Grandchildren, 2 Grandparents, 2 Cats
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A Fishwifely Tale

DSCN5101-001I like to talk to myself these days.

Not long conversations you understand, but just the odd comment here and there, a word or phrase of encouragement, exasperation or frustration to my inner self.

I try not to do it when there are people in close proximity and I try not to do it too loudly, but I guess I’m getting a tad grumpier, and also that years of living with someone whose hearing is afflicted may have influenced the general volume of my conversational tone.

The other day I was walking through the shopping arcade that leads from the city car park to the city centre itself. Ahead of me two young women with pushchairs were ambling along. Towards the end of the arcade the thoroughfare narrows into an exit and in the corner some obliging soul has placed one of these paid rides, a big brown and white horse.

As one of the brood belonging to the first young mother stopped to attempt to climb onto the horse, she stopped dead in the restricted exit and began shouting at him. The second mother, who was not with the first one, tried to thread her pushchair between the side of the exit and the now stationary pushchair but the first mother swung round sideways, blocking even more of the exit with her entourage. The second young mother had to back up.

Pedestrians piled into the back of each other, or swerved headlong into the rush of oncoming people trying to enter the arcade whilst the first mother made no attempt to move out of the way and continued to bawl at her off-spring.

“Oh for God’s sake,” I muttered quietly under my breath as I picked my way round the blockage.

“Whaaaat?” screeched the offending mother, fixing me with a gimlet eye.

I ignored her and pressed on.

“What did yer f***** say???” she bawled at my fast-disappearing back.

“Yer can use the rest of the f***** exit yer know,” her banshee-like diatribe continued as she warmed to her theme and to the attentions of the audience still trying to pick their way round her.

My pace quickened, and I worked out the likelihood of her abandoning her pushchair and brood to pursue me. Unlikely I thought.

I hoped.

“Unless o’ course yer too f****** fat….”

This was well below the belt, for whilst I might be heading for 66kg (or ten stone for the non-converted) there’s no way that my arse could be described as being ‘the size of a small countreee’ which was her contribution to the problem in the first place.

The fishwife’s voice faded into the distance (thankfully) as I pressed on into the crowds, but my shopping expedition was ruined as I kept glancing furtively over my shoulder, my heart leaping whenever another mother and pushchair came into view.

In the event of a further confrontation, popular opinion would be on my side I guessed, though headlines such as “people stand by as young mother beats up pensioner” flashed through my mind, and I toyed briefly with the idea of putting my glasses on as a means of disguise. (Only joking… I’m braver than that…I think)  🙂

It was not an enjoyable shopping trip, and as I watchfully made my way back to my car an hour or so later I decided I might try to curtail these one-way conversations for the future, or at least revert to the whispering style that my husband claims I adopt anyway.

At the very least, I might need to contain my grumpiness.

When I got home I rushed upstairs, and seized a small hand mirror to examine my rear view in the long mirror in the bedroom.

Nope, I thought with considerable relief, there’s no way my arse can be described as ‘countree-sized’.

The fishwife was clutching at straws there.





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Sunday Stills: The letter L – Lilies

Sunday Stills this week is calling for photos inspired by the letter L.  My choice – Lilies.  Why not visit the site and join in the weekly fun?

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The Daily Post: Twilight Zone – Revelation

DSCN0801-001My world was in total darkness, except for a warm light above me.  I was a tiny atom, like a speck on the second hand of a gigantic vertical clock.  The light above me was at twelve o’clock and as I circled beneath it, the light grew alternately warmer as I moved upwards towards it and cooler as I dropped away from it.

Gradually, I began to realise that I was in some kind of pain, but would have been unable to describe why, or even what kind of pain.  It was the pure sensation of an indescribable and hitherto unknown throbbing agony.  Round and round I circled, and as I reached the top of the clock-face, directly beneath the light, the agony would rise to a dreadful unbearable crescendo.  I screamed out but no sound came.  I tried to struggle but I seemed completely immobilised.

This must be a dream.  A dreadful nightmare of the worst possible kind.  Nothing in my life had ever prepared me for such an experience.  Never had I dreamed of an unremitting agony like this, and yet still I could not have described what or from where the pain originated, only that it continued relentlessly.  I tried to rouse myself out of the dream, as I had sometimes done in the past, but this time my efforts were in vain.  This must, then, be reality but such a reality as I had never before in my life experienced or could have ever conceived of.

And when it seemed that the agony was as much as I could bear…. it got worse.  Even in my dreamlike state my mind still reasoned and functioned perfectly.  There was an overwhelming sense of betrayal, a sense that all my life I had been led to believe in the existence of a general fairness, a humanity, a mercy and that now, in the midst of all this torture I realised that I had been most dreadfully misled.

There was, my mind screamed out in dreadful realisation, no God after all!

And then gradually the darkness began to fade to grey, the light above me grew brighter and the agony began to fade to a dull reverberating ache.  I began to make out shapes all around me, and eventually realised that there were faces above me, concerned and nervous faces.

People seemed to be holding me down but as I surfaced from the darkness, they tentatively released me and stood back, clearly shaken.  The room seemed to be full of people I’d not seen before, and who’d not been there earlier.  Where had they all come from?

The dental surgery was strewn with broken glass.  Instruments were lying on the floor, a man in the corner was holding a pad to his bleeding nose, and the dentist’s glasses were cracked and askew on his pointed nose.  The freckles on the nurse’s face stood out in bold relief against her ashen face, looking for all the world like a bad case of the measles.  With a hand that shook, she passed me a glass of pink water and motioned to the sink beside my chair.

‘My God’ said the dentist, rubbing his face and examining the damage to his spectacles, ‘I’ve read somewhere that red-heads need more anaesthetic than others.  That was a revelation.”

“It certainly was,” I mumbled, spitting blood into the bowl.

The Daily Post: Twilight Zone

Other takes:

  1. Ecclesiastical rocket | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  2. Lime Plant in White | Exploratorius
  3. Daily Prompt: Twilight Zone | Incidents of a Dysfunctional Spraffer
  4. Daily Prompt: Twilight Zone- The Psychological Fact of Living | Journeyman
  5. Coffee Neurotics Seem To Find Each Other and The Daily Prompt | The Jittery Goat
  6. The Twilight Zone | Hope* the happy hugger
  7. Daily Prompt: Twilight Zone | Under the Monkey Tree
  8. Wholesale Hot Dogs | the intrinsickness
  9. Surreal journey: Daily Prompt | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  10. Daily Prompt: Twilight Zone | The Wandering Poet
  11. Daily Prompt: Twilight Zone | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
  12. fandom | yi-ching lin photography
  13. DP Daily Prompt: Twilight Zone | Sabethville
  15. in concert, there ought | y
  16. The Truth About Motherhood | theempathyqueen
  17. Pushing forty, going on sixteen… most of us anyway. | thoughtsofrkh
  18. Drunkenness Adventures | Knowledge Addiction
  19. You will meet a tall, dark, handsome stranger- again | Suddenly Single in Marin
  20. Daily Prompt: Twilight Zone | SURREAL | nomadofwoods
  21. Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  22. Twilight Zone meets Logan | It’s a wonderful F’N life
  23. Daily Prompt: Twilight Zone | A Day In The Life
  24. One Crazy Mom » Living In A Haze
  25. The Santa in Derby UK | Le Drake Noir
  26. For E., With Love and Make-up | Kosher Adobo
  27. 270. Train Rush | Barely Right of Center

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Daily Prompt: It’s Friday, I’m in Love

DSCN4500I was someone else’s long-term girlfriend, and he was someone else’s long-term boyfriend.  I was with the trumpet-player in a jazz band, and he played the guitar.  Well, no contest really… watching that dark, moody head inclined over the guitar, picking reflectively at the strings and occasionally glancing up to stare broodingly at the audience, and then turning my gaze upon my own boyfriend’s bulging eyes, tapping foot and flushed, extended cheeks… well you get my drift.

I was not of the ‘mover and shaker’ orientation, so there was no way I’d take matters into my own hands.  I was more your quiet observer … stalker I think they’d call it these days 🙂 

And unfair though it was, I carried on with my existing relationship far longer than I should have done, simply for the opportunity to continue moving in the same circle as him, going to the same gigs, being part of the ‘golden groupies’.

But eventually I called time on my relationship and sat at home, pining for the glory days until one day the guitarist suddenly turned up at my door, and asked me out. It was like a dream come true.

“What about Pamela?” I stammered.

“We’ll always be friends,” he said nobly, “but it’s over.”

On cloud nine, I could hardly believe my luck.  It sounds ridiculous now, but up until that moment I’d never actually been attracted to any of the boys I’d gone out with – I just went out with them because they asked me to, and that was what girls did.  If you didn’t, you didn’t go out.

Oh the sheer bliss of being able to ‘love the one you’re with’.  The weight dropped off me, I had a glow, (people said), I felt alive for the first time in my life.  I discovered I actually liked physical contact and that nothing else that happened to me could turn off that shimmering sense of excitement with which I greeted each day.

We had a wonderful summer, I’ll never forget it.  We shared a love of literature, poetry and music… we were made for each other, it seemed.

And when September came, it was time for him to go off for his first term at teacher training college.  We swore eternal devotion, we swore a life of celibacy till we were together again, we declared our passion could not be quenched by the few hundred miles that would lie between us.

And by half-term he’d written to say he’d found someone else.

I thought I’d die.  I thought I would never find anyone else who could make me feel that way again.  Life hardly seemed worth living, and if the weight had dropped off me before, it was positively galloping off the bathroom scales now.

After a few weeks friends were able to entice me out again, and I picked up the threads of a life, battered and bruised emotionally.  And soon I was back on the circuit, but sadly, for the most part, once again in relationships I didn’t really want to be in.  My heart simply wasn’t in it for quite some time.

About a year later he sent me a copy of a poem, to which he’d added a few cryptic footnotes.  Even today, the poem still brings tears to my eyes.

When You Are Old  (W B Yeats)

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;


How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;


And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Of course, it was colossally pretentious of him, monstrously ego-centric, abjectly sentimental, all attributes that I’ve grown to heartily dislike.  And if it had been meant as an attempt at reconciliation it didn’t work – if there’s one thing I’m good at it’s moving on.

I see now that we would have been totally incompatible within a few short years, and that what happened, brutal though it may have been, was truly for the best.

But oh the bittersweet joys of first love…

Daily Prompt:  It’s Friday, I’m in Love

Click on the following links for more contributions to this theme.

  1. A journey begins..proud eagle.. | The Wandering Poet
  2. Daily Prompt: It’s Friday, I’m in Love | Basically Beyond Basic
  3. Happy Valentine’s day | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  4. Two of us | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  5. We are Entangled: We are Smitten « psychologistmimi
  6. Dimples And Dreadlocks; A Story of First Love | The Jittery Goat
  7. A Second Chance – A Friday Flash Story | My Little Avalon
  8. Valentine’s Broken Song – a poem woven with tears | alienorajt
  9. Kindergarden Crushed | Finale to an Entrance
  10. Watching Love Unfold | The Silver Leaf Journal
  11. DP Daily Prompt: It’s Feb. 14 Friday, I’m In Love! | Sabethville
  12. It’s Valentines Day and I’m Not In Love – Musings |
  13. Yet Another Valentine’s Daily Prompt: It’s Friday, I’m in Love | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
  14. Crushed | Kate Murray
  15. A Weird Confession | WanderLust
  16. Worst Valentine’s Day Ever | Sunday Epidemic
  17. Bad Boy (My First Love) | That One Nerdy Chick
  18. Smith Island Cake | Exploratorius
  19. The Anonymous Valentine’s Postal Service | thoughtsofrkh
  20. i do whatever i like whoever i want | yi-ching lin photography
  21. Daily Prompt: It’s Friday, I’m in Love « Mama Bear Musings
  22. whatever i like | y
  23. If Someone Wrote A Song For Me On St Valentine’s Day I Would Be Ecstatic… | Steve Says….
  24. Daily Prompt: Smitten « Vicariously Poetic
  25. Daily Prompt: It’s Friday (Saturday, Sunday, Monday . . .) I’m in Love | No Apologies
  26. Rooted in Love with Shoelaces of Grace Prayers and Promises
  27. Daily Prompt: It’s Friday, I’m in Love | DukkSheit Happens……….
  28. Daily Prompt: It’s friday, I’m in Love- Analyzed by a medical student | Journeyman
  29. My first crush | Knowledge Addiction
  30. My Valentine’s story. | The scribbles in the margin
  31. Romance Haiku | Laith’s Ramblings
  32. Daily Prompt: It’s Friday I’m In Love | snippets and words
  33. Falling in love…Daily Prompt | alienorajt
  34. Snapshot | Musings from a practical mystic
  35. First Love | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  36. It’s Friday, I’m in love. First love. | The Shevster’s Space
  37. Memories of 16 and Pinky Swears « Dancing with Fireflies
  38. 16 « Dancing with Fireflies
  39. Do you have a moment? | FILMS | FOOD | POETRY
  40. Daily Prompt: SMITTEN | my father’s garden
  41. against the grain/instead of the prompt | peacefulblessedstar
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The Daily Prompt: Mal Vecino!

Autumn Sunset 05She was something of a character, the kind of once-beautiful woman you see in those pension or retirement home adverts, rose basket over the arm, all cashmere, chiffon and soft focus.  In her seventies she was still quite attractive in a very actressy sort of way, and wafted about impressively with trailing scarves and wide-brimmed straw hats, making dramatic gestures. 

And she had, for the past three months, been avoiding acknowledging the fact that we’d moved in next door to her.  Their villa was slightly further up the hill, and their naya, or terrace as we’d call it, overlooked the side of our garden.  It was impossible for her not to notice me pegging out my washing as she floated elegantly down the steps from their naya, and it was inconceivable that she couldn’t see me when we were both getting into our cars at the same time on the street outside. 

 She, and her husband, were past-masters at glancing away at the precise moment I smiled, nodded, or waved a hand.  So I gave in and accepted the fact, we were not going to be good neighbours.  This was unusual, as I knew they were English and the English in Spain generally make a point of getting to know each other.   Still, if it wasn’t to be, there was an end to it.

 A few months later, whilst back in England, we learned (not from our neighbours) that we’d been burgled, and hurried back to Spain.  Our loss was not great, electrical goods, still-labelled clothes, unopened perfumes still in their packaging, computer screens – just the kind of stuff you see at the rastro or street market every Sunday.

Armed with a dictionary off we went to report the burglary at the police station.  Having stumbled through a dialogue in Spanish with a senior police officer (who it later transpired spoke perfect English but chose not to), we were coming to the end of our list of stolen items.

Looking up, I saw our neighbour floating gracefully by the doorway.  The police officer smiled, and in she wafted to interrupt the proceedings, giving us no more than a fleeting glance.  Obviously well known to him, she conversed rapidly in Spanish with him, flirting, flattering and giggling like a schoolgirl.

To this day I’m still not sure whether she recognised us but for some reason, she suddenly decided to acknowledge us, indicating the item she had placed on the floor behind her and saying in English “I’d rather hoped they wouldn’t recover this old thing, I was so looking forward to getting a new one from the insurers.”

I peered round her.  It was a sewing machine in its cover, a similar make to the one we’d had stolen, though the cover was more soiled than I remembered.   (This later turned out to be fingerprint powder.)   How weird, I thought, that she should have had a sewing machine stolen – these items must be highly sought after here in Spain.

 Naïve or what???

Off she drifted, and the police office, looking a little uncomfortable explained, in English this time, that several stolen cars had been recovered the previous night and a significant number of items had been found in them.  I realised then that our neighbour must have also been burgled too and had come to reclaim her goods.

“Follow me, and see if you can identify any of your stolen items.”

So we did, and we recovered just about everything that couldn’t fit in the thieves’ pockets.  Everything except the sewing machine that is.

I turned to the police officer.  “Is there any chance that was our sewing machine that lady was carrying?” I asked.

He turned an uncomfortable shade of red.  “No,” he said, “a different make.”

“Was her villa burgled last night?” I asked.

“No, several weeks ago.”

If we’d arrived at the police station a few minutes earlier, I would have been reunited with my brand new sewing machine, but clearly having found the haul, the police had then contacted all those who’d reported losses of similar items in recent weeks to ask them to identify them.

She got there first, before we had a chance to report our loss.  And she’d lied.   He knew it, and I knew it.

And as I watched her on her naya later that day, showing off what I’m pretty sure was my brand new sewing machine to her family and friends whilst laughing gaily like some Broadway ingenue, I wondered whether I should pop round with the instruction booklet and the box of accessories that the thieves had missed, just to make her devious deception truly worthwhile.

I didn’t of course.

Nor did I ever once look in her direction again, either in her garden, on the street, or in the supermarket.

She was clearly not someone I wanted to know.

Today’s Daily Prompt was ‘Good Fences’.  For other interpretations click on the following links:  

  1. Lonely Park | muffinscout
  2. Axe-wielding landlady: a true story! Daily Prompt | alienorajt
  3. JFK Ultra Walk | Exploratorius
  4. Mr Fall | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  5. Paradox | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  6. A bird and the boat | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  7. Daily Prompt: Good Fences? | DCMontreal: Blowing the Whistle on Society
  8. Neighbours | Sue’s Trifles
  9. Yeah, I’m in the habit of phoning weirdo’s and hanging out. | thoughtsofrkh
  10. Next Door | Melibelle in Tokyo
  11. Revenge of the Duck | The Jittery Goat
  12. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening | Ps and Qs: Photography, Poetry and Quiet
  13. Unseen and Unknown | Finale to an Entrance
  14. adversity | yi-ching lin photography
  15. DP Daily Prompt: Good fences? | Sabethville
  16. Two Hours | Lifeinpawprints’s Weblog
  17. Daily Prompt: Good Fences? « Mama Bear Musings
  18. Fences, Boundaries, and Relationships Prayers and Promises
  19. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie & Neighbors | LenzExperiments
  20. There’s a space-ship in my neighbor’s garage | A mom’s blog
  21. Neighbourhood. | The Word Trance
  22. Good Neighbors, Bad Neighbors « One Crazy Mom
  23. second home first | peacefulblessedstar



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Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie

DSCN4224-001Ninety nine percent of who you are is invisible and untouchable. 

R Buckminster Fuller

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge invited photographs on the theme of ‘Selfie’.  😦

For other, more transparent takes on the prompt click on the link above, or any one of the following:

  1. Selfie (Weekly Photo Challenge) | Icezine
  2. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | nancy merrill photography
  3. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | Flickr Comments
  4. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | Hamburg und Mee(h)r
  5. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | This, that and the other thing
  6. Mara Eastern
  7. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | roastbeefandrakija
  8. Selfie | de Wets Wild
  9. Churchiness Insults My Intelligence | Bumblepuppies
  10. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | Hope* the happy hugger
  11. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie: The Devil Made Me Do It. | Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua
  12. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | Mara Eastern
  13. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | A mom’s blog
  14. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | Lost in Translation
  15. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | Create A Beautiful Life
  16. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | 2812 photography
  17. Weekly Photo Challenge ‘selfie’|myselfie | Rainbow Photography – Scotland-
  18. Weekly Photo Challenge – Selfie | Chittle Chattle
  19. WPC : Selfie | Books, Music, Photography & Movies : my best friends
  20. Weekly Photo Challenge: Me, myself and I | V A S T L Y C U R I O U S
  21. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | Pa-BLAM!
  22. Weekly Photo Challenge – Selfie | Just Snaps
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The Power of Positive Thinking

DSCF1390-001He was just another motorist stranded in the dark on the hard shoulder, examining what appeared to be a flat tyre.

Or was he?

It seems Bill had had some kind of a run-in with a lorry which had pretty much destroyed his front nearside wheel, causing significant bodywork damage to the wheel arch and driver’s door.

A police patrol car came along and stopped to help.  They could immediately see he was a senior citizen… a very senior citizen.

“How old are you, Bill?” they asked, after putting him in their patrol car.

“I’m 91,” said the old-timer, grinning. “I’ve got a spare wheel, if you could just put it on for me…”

“No way, sir”, explained the policeman, “the damage to your bodywork is dangerous.  That car’s going no further, we’ll have to call a breakdown truck.  Can we give you a lift anywhere?”

“Well, I’m off to catch the ferry to Holland,” said the old-timer hopefully.

“What are you going there for?” asked one policeman with incredulity.

“It’s a reunion for our paratrooper regiment, we fought at Arnhem in 1944.  I’ve got to get there, they’ll be expecting me.”

The police were duly impressed.

“Can we contact any family members to come and help you?” they asked.

“Nah, they’re all dead, even my sons.  I outlived ‘em all.”

These kindly policemen kept him in their car whilst they arranged for the breakdown vehicle, and since he seemed determined to continue his journey, asked if he wanted them to see if they could hire a car for him to continue his journey.

You’d think driving his own car across to the continent might have been enough of a challenge for the old boy.  Not so.

“If you could get me a hire car I’d be really grateful,” Bill said.

As you might expect, several car hire companies declined the business when they found out the age of the prospective client, but eventually one company agreed a five week car hire for him.  The police took him to the car hire company to complete the documentation, then helped unload numerous boxes from the boot of his own car into the hire car, checked to see he was capable of driving the new vehicle, and sent him on his way in time to catch his ferry.

What an incredible story, not only of the officers (West Yorkshire Police) going out of their way to help this old man, but also one of total dogged determination on Bill’s part.

Somehow he must have loaded all those boxes into his car by himself before setting off from home.  No mean achievement at that age.

And after a brush with a lorry you might think he’d lose his nerve and decide to call it a day. No way.

You might also think that the prospect of driving a strange new car in the dark all the way to the ferry might have dampened his enthusiasm, not to mention continuing his journey on the right hand side of the road in a right hand drive car through Holland to his reunion venue.

But Bill wasn’t fazed in the least.

Nor did the police make any patronising assumptions about his abilities either.

It was a triumph of positive thinking on both sides, and was heart-warming to watch (Motorway Cops, BBC1, January 2014)

Bill reached his destination safely, and was duly reunited with his fellow paratroopers.

Sadly, Bill died whilst in Holland, though thankfully surrounded by his old comrades. 




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Open Wide… and scream

DSCN4004-006I’ve never had much luck with dentists;  in fact, I’d go so far as to say that if there’s a dicey dentist around then there’s a pretty good chance that he/she and I will be drawn together with an almost irresistible magnetism.

In fairness, I’m not the easiest of patients.  In addition to a ferociously strong bite, I’ve been cursed with quite a small mouth, which makes dental treatment a nightmare for both me and the dentist.

This also led to a problematic degree of overcrowding, so that the age of 14, three healthy teeth were removed before a brace was fitted for a couple of years to straighten the remaining ones up. The brace didn’t render any detectible improvement, and the orthodontist then said that I was too old, at 14 for a brace to have any effect. 

I look around these days and see people of all ages wearing braces.  You could be forgiven for thinking it was some kind of fashion statement, and it makes me wonder what’s changed then?

Only, I think, the stories dentists tell.

To add insult to injury, the dentist assigned to carry out the extractions to facilitate this straightening administered insufficient anaesthetic, an experience I shall never forget.  I changed dentists after that, and very nearly my religious persuasions.

I then had a relatively comfortable sojourn for a few years with an amiable dentist who steadfastly made his way through my mouth filling everything in sight. These were indeed, the halcyon days of dentistry for me.  It was this kindly soul who was responsible for transforming my two stubbornly crooked front teeth into something I wasn’t uneasy about flashing, thus liberating a smile I hadn’t utilised a great deal until that point.  But this comfortable relationship wasn’t to last.  He took early retirement, handed me on to a new appointee and it all went steadily downhill from there.

This surly young replacement instilled the fear of God in me when he attempted a root canal filling.  It took far longer than anticipated; something was clearly going wrong and as I kept seeing his shaking blood-soaked hands withdrawing from my mouth I became increasingly nervous.  Instruments were seized desperately before being dropped equally desperately onto the dental tray and I noticed that even the nurse was looking on aghast.  I was in that chair for well over an hour as subsequent patients threw themselves against the waiting room door before giving up and leaving.  Sadly, but maybe predictably I lost that tooth within a relatively short period after that.

This too was the dentist who declared I’d got serious periodontal disease and referred me to a dental hospital.  Having spent several months on the waiting list, fully expecting to find my teeth laid out on my pillow each morning, I was finally granted an appointment.  The specialist, and his attendant group of students couldn’t understand why I’d been referred in the first place, and suggested a marginally different dental hygiene approach.

My regular dentist was disappointed at this verdict, and obviously so distracted by this blight on his judgement that at my next visit he managed to complete a routine check up completely unaware that he was actually referring to, and updating someone else’s dental records.

More significantly, this was also the man who told me I needed to have two left upper back molars removed as they were ‘flapping about in the breeze.’  I duly made the appointment for the extraction but when I turned up he did an about-turn (thankfully) and said maybe we should see how I went on with them, with the rider that I’d probably loose them naturally before the end of the year anyway.

Whatever, I’m glad he did defer the extraction.  Fifteen years passed before I eventually had one of those teeth removed, and another four years after that, the second one followed suit.  Nineteen years… not bad for some teeth predicted to drop out within months.  Of course by that time he was just a distant and unpleasant memory.

My current dentist, a man with a first-class honours degree in lugubriosity finally removed that second tooth, counselling me at the time to have the two non-troublesome back molars on the other side removed, as it would be cost and time-efficient then to have a partial denture fitted with two teeth on either side.  The back one on the other side was very mobile, he said, probably wouldn’t last much longer and once it was extracted, the other one would loosen anyway.

I got the impression he thought I was being unduly precious when I said I’d like to keep ALL of my teeth for as long as they are healthy, and preferred not to have extractions ‘for the sake of order and economy’.

I paid for a second opinion with another dentist, whose verdict was that though he could see there was a degree of mobility with that back tooth, in his view he would leave well alone unless or until problems began to arise.  He added that current dental opinion didn’t support the view that if one tooth was removed, the one next to it would necessarily loosen.

Who should you believe?

At a subsequent check-up my regular dentist, in the manner of one who’s recently discovered buried treasure, informed me that one of the lower teeth (directly below the gap left by the two nineteen year ‘mobiles’) was cracked, and would probably go sooner rather than later.

“Well since there are no teeth above it,” I said optimistically, “it’s not taking any strain whilst eating so hopefully it will be later rather than sooner.”

“In that case, if you’re not using it” he said, “you might as well have it out.”

What is it with this guy?  Does he get off on extracting teeth?  And how does that logic stack up with his urging me to have a partial denture directly above it?  What would be the point if there is no tooth below it to chew against? 

At each check up this dentist looks at the ‘mobile’ back molar, sighs and tells me that probably the only reason it hasn’t given me any problems is because I’m (obsessively) fastidious about oral hygiene.  Now only able to chew on one side, no amount of flossing is too onerous, since I’m even more determined to keep what I have. 

So I was a bit concerned a while ago when I felt some twinges in one of the neighbouring teeth, though I couldn’t tell which one.  We were on holiday in Spain in a town close to where we used to live, so in an effort to head off any problems, I returned to the dentist that had treated me for several years when we were resident there.

This dentist’s particular claim to fame in the black gallery of my personal dentistry amounted to a couple of insufficiently filed down fillings that left me unable to bite my teeth together, and a recommendation that I had a cosmetic build up to the sloping corner of one of my lower front teeth.  This he did, leaving me unable to bite together once again; there was a reason there was a corner missing off that tooth – it had been worn down over several decades by my top teeth.

Because that’s the way my teeth bite together.

Still, as dentists go, (or as far as my dentists go) that wasn’t a bad track record, so I was happy to revisit him for an examination of the upper right molars to see what, if anything, was developing… a stitch in time and all that.  The verdict was that the second from the back molar was cracked and the only option was to take out the nerves in that tooth and do a root canal filling.   You don’t get much change from 400 euros for this procedure and though it should stop the pain, there was no guarantee that the tooth itself wouldn’t fracture sooner rather than later.  So then I’d need a crown, at a cost upwards of 800 euros.

And probably a bank loan too.

While he was talking, I cast my mind back and remembered that he’d performed a root canal filling for me once before, and asked him whether he still had my records.

The records were there, and showed that this tooth had already been the subject of a root canal filling.  Reassuring or what?

“There’s only one option then,” he said.  “You’ll have to have an extraction.”

By this time, I was beginning to wonder what the chances were that the tooth in question wasn’t the one causing the problem.

“I’m really nervous about losing another tooth,” I said, “my dentist in the UK is already urging me to have the one next to it extracted because it’s mobile.

He dived into my mouth again.  “Nothing wrong with that back one, perfectly healthy, and it’s not that mobile at all.”

Conflicting opinion number three then.

“Look,” I said, climbing out of the chair, “maybe I’ll think about this.”

The tooth that he’d been proposing to extract then stopped twinging, but I wasn’t holding out any great hopes that the problem had gone away for good.  So just in case, I started canvassing friends for an alternative dentist in my holiday location.

Well, you can never have too many conflicting dental opinions can you?

“I know an excellent dentist,” said one friend, “expensive, but very good.  Won’t undertake procedures unless it’s absolutely necessary.” 

This was encouraging, so I googled his name, only to find that a dentist of the same name had been subject to disciplinary proceedings and reprimanded by the General Dental Council in response to complaints by several patients in the UK.  He hadn’t attended the hearing because, coincidentally, he’d moved abroad. To Spain.

Probably not the same dentist at all, but given my track record, I thought I’d pass on that one… just in case. 

 (To be continued… without a shadow of a doubt…)




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